PAPUA NEW GUINEA, Baiyer, Jimi and Lai Valleys, Western Highlands, Enga and Madang Provinces – June 2007
Permanent footbridge in support of the 10,329-acre montane forest Kengai Kitenga Park conservation area
The forest of the upland slopes of the PNG highlands, descending to the northern coastal plains, contains high endemism of both flora and fauna, with several endangered or threatened species. The local clans are in the process of establishing a protected area, the Kengai Kitenga Park, encompassing over 10,329 acres of primary montane forest for at least the next 30 years. These clans live in a series of small villages scattered along the Baiyer, Jimi and Lai valleys on the northern slopes of the highlands, clustered around the government station of Baiyer River. Currently, their only way to reach any services, including the nearest government health post, is to trek for several days through the forest slopes. Along their path is a 262 foot long cane bridge, which is the only way to cross the Lai River. The bridge needs to be rebuilt every three months as the cane wears down, a difficult and dangerous operation. Seacology is providing funding for a permanent bridge using concrete and metal cable in support of the newly-created Kengai Kitenga Park. *
UPDATE October 2007 - The village and grant agreements and the list of documentation needed to start the project were completed in August 2007. Plans for September and October include contracting with the engineer, purchasing materials, clearing and preparing the site of construction, and beginning construction. The construction is expected to be completed by November 2007.
UPDATE July 2008 - In early 2008 the project start date had to be postponed in order to redesign a bridge construction plan that would fit better at the river's site. As of May 2008 the design plans were finished and construction was scheduled to resume in June 2008. Project leaders anticipate that completion of the project will occur by the end of 2008 or early 2009.
UPDATE June 2009 - As of April 2009 a new engineer had been hired to correct errors and redesign the bridge. Most of the materials have been carried over to the project and are in good condition except the bags of cement that need to be replaced. Field representative Sam Moko is still working with the community to develop possible next steps to finalize the project. Work to complete the bridge will begin in June 2009. Mark Doa, a Baiyer community leader, reported that the villagers are strongly supportive of the conservation area and that they themselves look after the area and patrol it and it is valued highly, especially as a bird sanctuary.
UPDATE November 2009 - As of November 2009 the project team has started up the project again. They have bought materials with remaining Seacology funds as well as other funds. Some materials have been carried over to the project and work has begun onsite. It is estimated that this project will be completed by the end of December or early 2010.
UPDATE February 2010 - As of February 2010 field representative Sam Moko reports that the footbridge has been completed. Enthusiastic community members all helped to construct the bridge in December 2009 while Sam was at the site after bringing in many of the materials from the welder by truck. The official opening will likely be held in April 2010.
UPDATE June 2010 - As of June 2010 Sam Moko reports that there will be a delay in the official opening of the footbridge as another main bridge necessary to reaching the site has been washed out by heavy rains. The opening will be held once this bridge is repaired, likely by the end of June, 2010.
UPDATE January 2011 - Field representative Sam Moko attended the opening ceremony in August 2010 and submitted photos of the completed footbridge.